Sam Frank is the co-founder of Four Twelve Roofing. The company was born out of his desire to leave a positive impact on his community in Baltimore City.
In 2013, Sam Frank and Shea Frederick founded Four Twelve Roofing as a “small community business that focused on quality values like integrity and customer service.”
Four Twelve Roofing began with Sam Frank and Frederick “renovating rowhomes to improve neighborhoods in Baltimore City.”
Through the success of Four Twelve Roofing, Sam Frank and Frederick were able to start other community initiatives such as the Baltimore Roof Trust. This initiative provides “free roofs to community members in Baltimore City” who need it.
The success of Frederick and Sam Frank helped Four Twelve Roofing earn recognition from several media publications. Inc. Magazine ranked the company #122 in its 5,000 Fastest Growing Private Companies in the US.
Likewise, the Baltimore Business Journal named Four Twelve Roofing the No. 1 fastest growing company in Baltimore City in their Fast 50 Awards 2020. In the same year, the company was also on pace to complete over 1,000 projects.
Before Four Twelve Roofing, Sam Frank went to New York City to work in Wall Street. After his stint at Wall Street, he returned to Baltimore to honor his commitment to give back to his community.
We are millennials disrupting the construction services market. Sam Frank, Four Twelve Roofing
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Sam Frank: We are millennials disrupting the construction services market. Construction companies are stereotyped to be owned by older generational folks, and oftentimes aren’t bringing new ideas about business to how to run their company.
We bring the new ideas of technology, customer service and marry them with old school values that never go out of style — like shaking your customer’s hand and letting them know you’re going to take care of them.
I think that is what we are building here.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Sam Frank: Turn off your email notifications. Ever since I watched the Social Dilemma, I have done this.
The dopamine rush (positive or negative) that kicks in anytime I get an email, was not productive towards my work / life balance.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Sam Frank: Obviously, my parents. They’ve supported me unconditionally through every step of my journey.
But I also definitely have a lot of mentors that have impacted my life and taught me things along the way.
A good company is above 50 percentiles in terms of processes, people and product.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Sam Frank: A good company is above 50 percentiles in terms of processes, people and product. You are better than the average and the worst, of your competitors.
A great company is one of the top 3 companies in your strategic landscape. At least this is how I think about this question, as it relates to our industry, with so much competition.
I think a great company should inspire people to come to work, have a staff that takes pride in what they do for work and have repeat customers who sing the praises of your company.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Sam Frank: I would say that you might not want to listen to me, because I haven’t been through what you’re going through.
There’s an expression from Russell Brunson that says, if you want to buy a Lamborghini, don’t take advice from the guy who drives a Toyota Camry.
So…. that said, I would suggest that person find companies to research, which are doing what he wants to do.
If there are companies in their industry growing to the size they desire to be, why is that? What are they doing? And how can we strive to do those things ourselves, to grow in the same way that they are?
A great company is one of the top 3 companies in your strategic landscape.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Sam Frank: We watch our profit and loss financials closely. If we are losing money, we make changes. If we are gaining money, we invest it back into the company.
That said, I have a background in financial accounting, and knowing how to read company financials is important to understand how the business is performing.
If you don’t understand how your Income Statement, Balance Sheet or Cash Flow Statement work, then I would strongly advise taking a course or reading a book on how these flows, so that you can read them yourself.
Understanding Gross Profit Margins vs Net Income and all kinds of other info is valuable to helping manage the different segments of the business.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Sam Frank: The human component of running a business is by far the most challenging yet rewarding.
We aim to create a culture where people feel appreciated and like coming to work.
It is not always something you can make happen, but when you win, in terms of taking care of your staff — it is certainly the most rewarding part of being in business as an owner.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Sam Frank: We tell our staff 2 things — do what you say you’re going to do.
And make sure that our customers feel “taken care of.”
If everyone can punch the clock at the end of the day and say that they earnestly did that for our customers, then we have had a successful day of serving our clients.
We tell our staff 2 things — do what you say you’re going to do. And make sure that our customers feel “taken care of.”
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Sam Frank: Online reviews on google are a huge driver of our brand, marketing and professional reputation.
Managing these reviews and our good standing on these platforms is vital to performance.
I would also recommend being active in a positive way on social media.
I personally never post on my personal Instagram but spend an unjustifiable amount of time-consuming posts from some of my friends.
Being in front of that audience is free and an easy way to be thought of as a business building its reputation.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Sam Frank: Spending too much time thinking about how they’re going to start a business.
Just go! Start selling something and then figure it out.
Without faking it til you make it, and going to market with something, you’ll never know how the market will receive it, whether your pricing is correct (low or high).
Just go for it, start selling something, and then figure it out as you go.
I believe in doing small movements in my own life, to make an impact over a long period of time. Sam Frank
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Sam Frank: I believe in doing small movements in my own life, to make an impact over a long period of time.
Individual relationships, small acts of generosity or kindness, over extended periods of time.
These types of concentrated efforts can make a lot of difference over a lifetime of practice.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!